Brian on a shoestring.

August 6th, 2008

I’m currently in the middle of planning my next big trip for my next big book. Well, when I say planning I really haven’t got much idea what’s going to happen or if I can even find a hotel. I’m travelling through South East Asia and I’ll be using the original 1975 Lonely Planet ‘South East Asia on a shoestring’ as my only guidebook. The current edition of SAE on a shoestring has 988 pages. The first edition had all of 148 pages. The first stop on my trip will be East Timor – back then it was Portuguese Timor which was ‘a beautiful unspoilt country with a rare opportunity to see an old fashioned colony’. In Indonesia I will attempt to follow a 5-day motorcycle ‘jaunt’ around Bali, which Tony and Maureen Wheeler did back in 1974 – looking something like this I imagine…


Then on to Malaysia which, according to the guidebook, has ‘the best porridge’. Thailand is next and back then Ko Samui was a ‘beautiful and so far totally untouched’ island and the only way to get there was ‘irregular ships from Bangkok’. Which was probably all they needed as there was ‘only a couple of places to stay on the entire island’. Next is Burma, which was ‘one of the least western influenced countries in the non-communist world and one of the very few countries where you can’t get a Coke’. On to Laos, which ‘for the traveller it’s more a laze around, enjoy yourself and eat well place.’ And finally to Singapore, where Tony and Maureen put the entire guidebook together in a hotel room at the Palace Hotel – even though Singapore was ‘a hassling experience’ and ‘having long hair was a criminal offence’. Countries that didn’t make the book included Vietnam (at the tail end of the war), Cambodia (Pol Pot had stormed his way into power) and the Philippines (under Marshall law with Mr Marcos).

Tony Wheeler went through the original book with me and assured me that there were still quite a few of the original hotels and restaurants still around. The book would be pretty boring if every hotel I tried to find had been turned into a highway bypass. South East Asia has certainly changed a lot since 1975. The only thing I’m sad about is that air hostesses don’t dress like this anymore…

4 Responses to “Brian on a shoestring.”

  • On February 18th, 2009 Arlinda said:

    Are you realy gonna do that?
    My gosh so much happened in Indonesia….I hope you won’t get lost.
    Good luck then!

  • On March 19th, 2009 Katie said:

    Do you still have your South East Asia on a shoestring 1st edition? Is it for sale? :) I’m looking for that particular edition to use as a prop in a play. A photo of the back cover and the dimensions would be helpful if you’re not interested in selling the book (which I would completely understand!).

    Thank you,

  • On July 30th, 2009 Kelly said:

    You’re mad… but I really look forward to reading the book once it’s done :)

  • On August 24th, 2009 Zara said:

    Sounds amazing Brian. I am half way through your latest book and have been reading it slowly, scared to finish because I wasn’t sure how long you could keep inventing wacky travel themes!! :) I can enjoy Sleeping Around now (yes- i do realise how that sounds, lol).
    bon voyage!!

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